Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Flash: Minitel

This morning the NRC-Next published a Dutch language article on the French online service and terminal Minitel in the column What was next. Minitel was a European predecessor to Internet and it is interesting to read that in 2005 there were still 3,6 million people using Minitel; a typical of: the first city on gaz will be the last on electricity.

In the article Gerard Alberts, a computer historian of the University of Amsterdam, states that Minitel was an attempt of the French government to stimulate the use of computers. As far as I know it was the French government that approved a new telephone network. The French PTT did not know how to fill the lines and came up with the service Teletel, later on better known as Minitel.. On this service the French telephone directory was available for consultation; the printed French telephone directory consisted of some 33 separate volumes).

A minitel of 1982

With the article a photograph of a terminal is presented which is not a Minitel. In fact it is a Viditel terminal of the Dutch videotext service, which was based on the British Prestel technology and service.

The article states that Minitel never became a success in the Netherlands. This is true. Yet in 1987 the Eindhoven company Telematica of Abelshausen and Rovers promoted the minitel terminal for the Dutch market. They had plans to start a pilot in Nuenen (these days a glass village thanks to the same persons) and in Amstelveen near Amsterdam. These plans were later on incorporated in the launch of the company Videotex Nederland. However the terminals became never a success.

(BTW I am still looking for a minitel for my museum).

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Blog Posting Number 571

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